Difficult economic conditions, increased competition and changing patterns of service provision are challenging the role of town centres. Rethinking them as places to live is one possible future. In order to consider how to create town centres as living places that re-use existing spaces to deliver housing, employment and services, Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS), with a range of partners, brought participants from across Scotland together for a practical two-day intensive learning experience.
Place Challenge 2015: Town Centre Living was based at Hospitalfield House in Arbroath and used the town as place to test ideas. Over 100 participants tackled the issues collaboratively and explored the ‘how’ of making town centre living a reality. Attendance ranged from professionals within public, private and community sectors in the areas of housing, economic development, regeneration, house-building, community planning, public services and agencies; as well as planning, urban design and architecture.
The event was a combination of keynote presentations, site visits, design-based workshops, and engagement with local projects. Linsey, along with Lorenz Herfurth of Lancaster University, designed and delivered the workshop elements in their role as lead-facilitators. Participants worked in themed groups to explore ideas and imagine possible futures for town centre living at strategic, high street, area and building scales; and were introduced to service design approaches and tools such as brainstorming, network mapping, personas, problem definition and prototyping, before mapping out a Business Model Canvas of their proposal.
Through learning how to implement these tools, one of the aims was to empower participants to help them tackle barriers faced in delivering a range of policies on town centre living, health and wellbeing agendas. The lessons learned about shared issues, design thinking and collaborative working are also applicable to towns throughout Scotland. A Summary Report on the Place Challenge was published online by A&DS.